New York is a tough place to be a photographer passionate about capturing the ocean. Stifling, still summers and white-out blizzards in the winter create an infinite void of struggle for people like Matt Clark. The difference is, Matt grabs tackles this challenge head on, and in the process creates some of the most unique and beautiful photography we've seen, transcending everything from lifestyle to fine art and the documentarian moments in-between...
1. Who are you?
Matt Clark, 32, New York, USA.
2. Describe your medium & process for your photos...
I currently shoot digital photographs in water here in New York (and anywhere I travel to) with the intention of creating fine art water photographs. My focus has been on capturing the abstract form of breaking surf while also exhibiting the moments that are lost while surfing through still image. We ride these waves with the intention of destroying them when we surf, to cut them up, to tear them apart and to violate their shapes with surfboards. There's something absolutely magical about the moments we miss when surfing, the structure of a barrel, the glimmering light inside a pitching lip, the reflections of sky off the wind blown surfaces. My intention is to capture that as I've said many times before, in a personal and private type of photography, the ocean has let me in to see it when it's make up is off and I capture those moments with respect and admiration. That being said, often times, it's myself alone out in the freezing cold surf, shooting empty waves at dusk with not another soul around. Imagine that, you can see New York City in the distance and I'm alone in perfect waves, no surfers, no one on the beach, just myself and my camera. Plenty of blustery winter nights where I can barely operate my water housing because my hands are beginning to get frostbite where I ask myself, "What the hell am I doing?" and "For what?".
3. How did you find your passion? Who/what influences your work?
I started shooting film for fun with disposable cameras when I was about 14-15 in 1998 or so here in New York during the fall. My goal was to become a professional bodyboarder and I chased that pretty seriously and my grades in school were terrible because of that. It took another 8 years or so before I really started to fall in love with photography and chase that passion as it was a means to myself traveling the world and breaking a mold that I could have easily fell into. My entire family, grandparents, parents, and brothers all work for Con Edision, a company that provides power to NYC, and I was never ever going to let myself take that path. What's probably the polar opposite of working a 9-5 blue collar job? A surf photographer. Influences in my work range from other water photographers to musicians and painters. I find I am easily inspired by others stories, just last night I was watching an old music video of Cyndi Lauper and I was just completely mesmerized, here's a girl who just said fuck it, I am me and I will be exactly what I want to be. I'm influenced by rule breakers and those who go against the grain and who stand up for what they believe in and what they want, that's truly inspiring to me and that often translates to photography because once you become talented at the basics we all begin to break those rules.
4. What excites you about your work? What do you struggle with?
I find that through all of the years of photographing waves, I can still return and find something new about an old photo I may have missed and in my opinion that keeps me motivated because it means my eye is still learning and maturing. The biggest struggle has been capturing the audience and selling myself to them. More than half of being a photographer or artist is business, and business is an art of itself, that in turn can really make or break very talented people.
5. What are your goals? Where do you see yourself going?
My goal is to persevere and create something that has longevity to it, to look back near the end and feel some satisfaction that I did my best. I'd like to have my artwork stun an audience and live on as a document of one person's persistence and passionate love affair with the ocean.